All Indian Air Force transport aircrafts and choppers venturing into maritime operations have now been equipped with Underwater Locating Beacon (ULB) following the accident involving an AN32 plane which went missing nearly six months after it crashed in waters off Chennai carrying 29 people on board.
A massive search operation ‘Op Talash’ was launched for search of the missing aircraft that crashed on July 22 this year.
An underwater locating beacon is a device that guides the search and rescue teams to a submerged aircraft by emitting a repeated electronic pulse. An underwater locating beacon (ULB) or underwater acoustic beacon, is a device fitted to aviation flight recorders such as the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR).
ULBs are also sometimes required to be attached directly to an aircraft fuselage. ULBs are triggered by water immersion; most emit an ultrasonic 10ms pulse once per second.
India’s Defence Minister Shripad Naik stated: “All transport aircraft and helicopters of the Indian Air Force undertaking maritime operations over Andaman and Nicobar area of Bay of Bengal have now been equipped with Underwater Locating Beacon (ULB).” He also admitted the failure of his department to locate the missing aircraft.
A total of 18 Indian naval ships, 1 submarine and 8 Indian Coast Guard ships were deployed for the search of the missing IAF aircraft which totalled to 301 ship days of search. In addition to that, 14 Indian navy aircraft, 6 Indian Coast Guard aircraft and 10 IAF aircraft were deployed for the search wherein 290 sorties were flown, totalling approximately 1280 flying hours.
Samudra Ratnakar, Geological Survey of India vessel was also deployed to undertake sub-bottom profiling in the area and National Institute of Oceanography and Technology vessel. Sagar Nidhi, an ice-strengthened multidisciplinary vessel operated by the National Institute of Ocean Technology, was posted to carry out sea bed search using Remotely Operated Vehicle to a depth of 3000 metres.